At 25, Bruce Furrow has already been to the end of the earth, and now he’s going back. Furrow, working on his Ph.D. in natural products chemistry, is on his second trip to Antarctica. His role in the mission will include conducting bioassays on chemical compounds he isolated over a two-year period since he last traveled to Antarctica.
“As a group we collected marine invertebrates, including sponges, nudibranchs, algal mats and others,” he said of the last trip, which took researchers to McMurdo Station. “My biggest responsibility was to isolate microbes and fungi from our collected samples. Some of our fellow researchers here at FIT are still working with the hundreds of microbes we isolated.”
He hopes for similar success at Palmer Station in the Antarctic peninsula, where a rich collection of bio-diversity promises substantial research. Science has been a nearly lifelong interest for Furrow, who earned his undergraduate degree in biology and his masters in oceanography at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
But he first got interested in science in the eighth grade during a science fair where he entered an environmental project.
“I started working at a local water treatment facility 20 to 30 hours a week. I worked on this project for three years. This project alerted the local EPA to a significant health risk, which they investigated following my letter to them.”
Besides his Antarctic research, Furrow has an eclectic set of interests ranging from rock climbing to drag racing. The Petersburg, Va.-native also is a photographer who plans to document the Antarctic adventure with pictures. “The pictures are really for personal use. I have used them in talks that I have given on my research in Antarctica. This trip I have upgraded my equipment to medium format and hope to take some professional quality photos… The opportunity to take pictures in Antarctica is one not to be wasted.”
When he leaves his studies, Furrow hopes to “get a job in the pharmaceutical industry, working with natural products, or as a separations chemist. Hopefully if things continue to go well here at Florida Tech, I will receive my Ph.D. in the summer of 2001 and get to work on the discovery of new drugs and other useful compounds.”